Engineering is a lucrative and in-demand field, which is why it’s such an attractive option for students. However, obtaining an engineering qualification is not easy, which is why engineering courses have a high dropout rate.
If you’re one of the many students who’s dropped out of an engineering course, you may be wondering about jobs for dropouts. Fortunately, there are many alternative careers for engineering dropouts, of which some are high-paying. Below I list a few career options to consider.
Why Is the Engineering Dropout Rate so High?
Engineering students have to contend with complex subjects such as physics, math, machine design, and fluid mechanics.
These aren’t subjects that you can expect to pass by merely attending classes. You also need to spend a significant portion of your free time doing coursework and studying.
Often, students are just not committed enough to put in the necessary hours and work.
Also, some students have no real interest in engineering but are studying it because their parents want them to. Adding a lack of motivation and passion to an already challenging course is a sure recipe for disaster.
It’s hardly surprising, then, to learn that around 60% of engineering students either drop out of college or change their majors.
This means that if you’re an engineering dropout, you’re hardly unique. It may be encouraging to know that there are many highly successful engineering dropouts you can use as role models. Think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, just to name a few.
Alternative Careers for Engineering Dropouts
Below I list some alternative careers you can consider if you’ve dropped out of engineering. As you’ll see, I’ve added quite a few I.T. jobs as career options.
While it may make your job search easier if you have a degree, employers in the I.T. field tend to value technical skills more than qualifications. If you can demonstrate your knowledge and experience to them, you should have no problem finding a job.
For those who are not interested in I.T., I have listed a variety of other options.
1. Computer Programmer
Computer programmers develop new operating systems and programs, not only for computers but also for mobile phones and other smart devices. Depending on the type of coding the job requires, you may need knowledge of programming languages such as Java, Python, C, C++, C#, and Ruby.
Computer programming is a great option if you’re an engineering dropout since you can learn any programming language on your own.
To boost your chances of gaining employment, you can complete online certification courses, such as through Udemy. However, all you really need is to show a prospective employer that you have the necessary programming skills.
Median Pay 2021: $93,000 per year
2. Web Developer
Working as a web developer is another good option in the I.T. field for engineering dropouts. Web developers create and maintain websites. Apart from ensuring that websites are secure and easily accessible, web developers also integrate multimedia content into a site.
As a web developer, you can focus on back-end, front-end, or full-stack web development. While back-end developers work on a website’s structure, data, and logic, front-end developers focus on the visual aspects of websites.
Full-stack developers, on the other hand, are responsible for both back-end and front-end development. In addition, you can also work as a webmaster, in which case you’ll be responsible for keeping websites updated and functioning optimally.
Median Pay 2021: $78,300 per year
3. Database Developer
A database developer is a developer who focuses on the design and implementation of databases. Since companies are increasingly using data to make more effective decisions and improve business processes, database development is an in-demand job.
While you don’t need a degree, employers will typically require at least a high-school diploma. Otherwise, you just need to show them you can develop databases.
You can demonstrate your database development skills by building a few databases and adding them to your portfolio. To increase your chances of finding employment, you can complete a few courses in programming and database development.
Commonly used programming languages include SQL, which is the standard language for relational database management systems, and also Python, C, and PHP. Writing custom code to improve user interfaces requires languages such as Visual Basic and Java.
Median Pay 2021: $93,400 per year
4. Process Technician/Production Operator
Now that I’ve listed a few I.T. careers, I want to start mentioning other types of alternative careers for engineering dropouts. One route to consider is to become a technician since engineers tend to excel in this role. A high-paying technician job to look at is working as a process technician.
These professionals monitor and oversee manufacturing processes and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that products are produced according to specifications.
While specific duties vary depending on the industry, common responsibilities include testing batch qualities, maintaining equipment logbooks, ensuring a clean production area, and dealing with equipment malfunctions.
To find employment as a process technician, you will need to highlight the fact that you have some knowledge of engineering, albeit that you did not complete your engineering course. You could also consider completing a diploma or associate degree or doing vocational training through an accredited institution.
Median Pay 2021: $70,200 per year
5. Graphic Designer
If you have a creative streak, working as a graphic designer may be a good option. As a graphic designer, your aim is to communicate ideas through visual concepts that are created using computer software.
The work of these professionals is used in advertisements, magazine layouts, web content, and publicity materials. They develop the overall layout and production design for various media products, including labels, brochures, front covers, logos, and signage.
Daily duties include meeting with clients or art directors, advising clients on strategies, developing graphics, and presenting ideas to clients.
Graphic designers can form part of the in-house design team of a company or they can work for graphic design agencies. If you want a more flexible work schedule, you can also opt for freelancing.
As is the case with the I.T. jobs I mentioned, employers will definitely consider your job application if you have a great portfolio that demonstrates your skills as a graphic designer.
Median Pay 2021: $50,710 per year
6. Technical Writer
Engineering dropouts who enjoy writing can consider a career as a technical writer. Since this job entails creating technical documents, which often describe complex ideas and information, your background in engineering will come in handy.
Technical writers create various types of documentation, including software descriptions, instruction manuals, tutorials, and white papers.
While the job requires detailed technical knowledge, it is also important that technical writers are able to convey this knowledge in an effective way. Readers and end users may not have in-depth technical know-how, which means that a technical writer must have the ability to convey complex concepts in an easy-to-understand way.
You do not need a degree or any other qualification to work as a technical writer. An employer will want to see that you have the necessary technical knowledge to write about a relevant product or service. They will also want to see your writing skills, so be sure to have a portfolio on hand.
Median Pay 2021: $78,060 per year
7. Construction Manager
Construction managers are project managers who work in the field of construction. These professionals oversee all the activities of a construction site and ensure that all work is done according to specifications.
They can supervise a wide variety of projects, which may include the construction of bridges, roads, and commercial, residential, or industrial structures.
Apart from overseeing contractors and onsite workers, construction managers coordinate all construction processes and also meet with clients to discuss project costs and construction plans.
While many construction managers hold a degree or some form of qualification, you don’t necessarily need a formal qualification to work as a construction manager. However, you will need knowledge of building and construction.
In addition, you’ll need business management skills, excellent communication skills, and the ability to organize the time and workload of your team members.
Previous experience in project management will be beneficial since the main focus of this job is to close projects on time and within budget. In addition, your knowledge of civil and construction engineering will be very attractive to prospective employers.
Median Pay 2021: $98,890 per year